United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
D. Morrison Judge
OPINION AND ORDER
CHELSEY M. VASCURA UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Rico Isaih Hairston, an Ohio inmate, brings this action
against Defendant, Andrew Fultz, a correctional officer,
alleging that Defendant Fultz violated his rights under the
First and Eighth Amendments to the United States
Constitution. This matter is before the Court for
consideration of Plaintiff's Motion to Compel Discovery
with Rule 37(a)(1) Good Faith Effort Certification and
Request to Hold Counsel in Contempt of Court (“Motion
to Compel”) (ECF No. 27), Defendant's Response in
Opposition (ECF No. 28), and Plaintiff's Reply (ECF No.
29). For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion to
Compel is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN
PART. (ECF No. 27.)
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that on August 1, 2018,
while incarcerated at the Corrections Reception Center
(“CRC”), he applied for protective custody
because Defendant Fultz, other CRC staff, and fellow inmates
were harassing him. He alleges that Defendant Fultz harassed
him because he had filed informal complaints against him and
other staff. Plaintiff further alleges that Defendant Fultz
told other inmates about Plaintiff's rape conviction and
about a lawsuit Plaintiff had filed against prison staff and
encouraged them to attack Plaintiff. On August 15, 2018,
Plaintiff reported that Defendant Fultz had been telling
inmates about his case and encouraging them to attack him.
According to Plaintiff, on August 16, 2018, when he asked
Defendant Fultz to accept his informal grievance, Defendant
Fultz responded by opening his food trap/port and spraying
him with an entire can of mace. Plaintiff alleges that
Defendant Fultz yelled at him to “write that up”
as he was being escorted to receive medical care. (Am. Compl.
¶ 15, ECF No. 19.) On August 17, 2018, Plaintiff filed
an additional informal complaint against Defendant Fultz.
Plaintiff initiated this lawsuit on October 17, 2018. In his
Amended Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant
Fultz's actions constitute retaliation in violation of
his First Amendment rights and cruel and unusual punishment
in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights.
2, 2019, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Compel,
seeking three categories of documents. (ECF No. 27.) First,
Plaintiff requests production of any informal complaints,
grievances, appeals, and administrative investigations filed
in connection with or against Defendant Fultz by inmates
and/or staff during Defendant Fultz's employment as a
state prison guard. (Mot. to Compel at p. 2, ECF No. 27.)
Next, Plaintiff seeks his own protective custody documents
and the complete protective custody report that was approved
on August 16, 2018. (Id.) Third, Plaintiff seeks
camera footage from August 16, 2018, from 10:00 a.m. until
12:30 p.m., of the west range of the T.P.U. unit and T.P.U.
reception area. (Id. at p. 3.)
certifies that he made several good faith efforts to obtain
the requested discovery prior to filing the instant Motion to
Compel. (Id. at p. 4; see also ECF No. 22.)
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Rule of Civil Procedure 26(b)(1), which sets forth the
permissible scope of discovery, provides:
Scope in General. Unless otherwise limited
by court order, the scope of discovery is as follows: Parties
may obtain discovery regarding any nonprivileged matter that
is relevant to any party's claim or defense and
proportional to the needs of the case, considering the
importance of the issues at stake in the action, the amount
in controversy, the parties' relative access to relevant
information, the parties' resources, the importance of
the discovery in resolving the issues, and whether the burden
or expense of the proposed discovery outweighs its likely
benefit. Information within this scope of discovery need not
be admissible in evidence to be discoverable.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(b)(1).
the scope of discovery is within the Court's discretion.
Bush v. Dictaphone Corp., 161 F.3d 363, 367 (6th
Cir. 1998). As the United States Court of Appeals for the
Sixth Circuit has recognized, “[t]he scope of discovery
under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is traditionally
quite broad.” Lewis v. ACB Bus. Serv., Inc.,
135 F.3d 389, 402 (6th Cir. 1998). However, revisions to the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 2015 “encourage
judges to be more aggressive in identifying and discouraging
discovery overuse.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26, Advisory Committee
Notes to the 2015 Amendment. “The proportionality
standard is the instrument by which judges and practitioners
are to bring about a change in the culture of discovery,
requiring lawyers, with the guidance of involved judges, to
‘size and shape their discovery requests to the
requisites of a case.'” Waters v. Drake,
222 F.Supp.3d 582, 605 (S.D. Ohio 2016) (quoting Chief
Justice Roberts, 2015 Year-End Report on the Federal
Judiciary at 7).
proponent of a motion to compel discovery bears the initial
burden of proving that the information sought is
relevant.” Guinn v. Mount Carmel Health Sys.,
No. 2:09-cv-226, 2010 WL 2927254, at *5 (S.D. Ohio July 23,
2010) (quoting Clumm v. Manes, No. 2:08-cv-567, 2010
WL 2161890 (S.D. Ohio May 27, 2010)); see also Berryman
v. Supervalu Holdings, Inc., No. 3:05-cv-169, 2008 WL
4934007, at *9 (S.D. Ohio Nov. 18, 2008) (“At least
when the relevance of a discovery request has been challenged
the burden is on the requester to show the relevance of the
requested information.” (internal citation omitted)).
However, the burden to demonstrate that the requested
discovery would be disproportional to the needs of the case
rests with the objecting party. Bros. Trading Co. v.
Goodman Factors, No. 1:14-CV-975, 2016 WL 9781140, at *2
(S.D. Ohio Mar. 2, 2016) (Rule 26(b)(1) does not place the
burden of addressing proportionality considerations on the
requesting party; nor does it permit the opposing party to
avoid responding simply by making a boilerplate objection on
grounds of proportionality) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P 26,
Advisory Committee Notes (2015)).